South Carolina School Helps Integrate Parents Into Education

Orangeburg Consolidated School District in Orangeburg, South Carolina realizes that parent involvement is a key to running a successful school. The District's School Four is working to involve families in the education process with programs that teach parents ways to help their children — and it's paying off.

"I have more parents coming out to the schools," Parenting Coordinator Ladella Sharperson said. "I've seen more parental concern about their children's education and what's going on in the classroom and how they can help."

Dale Linder-Altman reports that Parenting Power Hour currently meets monthly but there are plans to extend the program this fall. The program is designed not only to teach parents how to help their children with school work, but also enhance their overall parenting skills with an emphasis on positive discipline to encourage proper behavior from their child.

Yolanda Irons has attended Parent Power Hour and a number of workshops:

"The lessons were varied," she said. "They helped me understand more about reading with your child."

They also showed her ways of teaching her child through play, Irons said.

"One game we did was hiding seashells in sand," she said. "We didn't just find the seashells, they counted them too."

Irons said she also learned to do science activities with her child. In one experiment, they mixed vinegar and baking soda in a bottle and put a balloon over the top. Then they watched the gas make the balloon expand, she said.

In addition to Parenting Power Hour, the district also offers the Breakfast Club and Grits with Grandparents as regular programs.

The Breakfast Club brings parents to the school where a book is read to the group and then a copy of it is given to each family. Sharperson noted that there was also a hands-on activity accompanying each book read. The club exists to give parents a better idea of what is going on in the classroom so they can better aid the teachers in providing a high quality education to the students.

Grits with Grandparents was developed in response to the economic reality of many families where the parents were working two to three jobs and grandparents had essentially assumed co-primary caregiving status. As the generation gap is larger in these cases the program helps teach grandparents things such as computer lingo and how to help with homework — things which they may be unfamiliar with from their own childhood and lives.

Irons was supportive of the district's efforts:

"Parents and schools have to work together. You can't just send your child and let the teachers deal with it; it has to be a cooperative effort," she said. "There has to be that communication going back and forth."

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